Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Factory bosses dogged in their determination to trim prices

 

Cattle arriving to Carrick on Suir Mart. Picture: Pat Moore
Cattle arriving to Carrick on Suir Mart. Picture: Pat Moore
Martin Coughlan

Martin Coughlan

Five points up with just 10 minutes remaining Tipperary hurlers thought they had it in the bag on Sunday, but Clare had other ideas and by the time the final whistle blew in Thurles the Banner had beaten the 2016 All-Ireland champions.

Clare's doggedness was cited by some analysts as the main reason for their victory. Take nothing away from Tipperary but Clare just would not give up.

The expectation among cattle farmers as the spring closed out was that come June and July, the numbers of fit stock would just not be there. The logic was simple: cattle traditionally targeted for those two months this year were a month to six weeks late going out to grass.

Indeed, some cattle originally targeted for grass at that period didn't get out of their sheds at all as their owners chose to continue feeding indoors.

Like Tipperary with only 10 minutes left, well up and cruising, a lot of cattle men reckoned that this year they had it cracked.

However, factory bosses, like Clare's hurlers, have dogged determination down to a fine art. Starting three weeks ago they began the gradual process of testing the resolve of sellers.

Rumours of impending cow price cuts were circulated, and by the middle of last week they proved true as they slipped by up to 20c/kg.

Once the factory men had secured that result they moved very quickly to stall the price for bullocks and heifers.

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The pull on cow prices this week saw Rs at €3.65-3.70/kg and Os at €3.40-3.50/kg ,with P3s at €3.30-3.40/kg and poorer Ps further back.

The fall in cow prices is seasonal, and it was not entirely unexpected.

However, the knock-on effect among the prime cattle was something that few foresaw because of that belief I mentioned: that with so few grass cattle ready, where would the factories get their supplies?

Well they've got them and they are continuing to get them.

Contracts

The landscape has gradually changed over the last few years, with factory feedlots and those feeders with direct contracts now playing an increasingly important role in assuring continuity of supply.

Prices to you and me this week saw bullocks back to a top of €4.15/kg, with heifers at €4.25/kg. But if you have a contract you're probably in the €4.30-4.40/kg range.

Bulls appear to have held their price better. Under-24-month bulls saw U grades yesterday on €4.25/kg, with Rs at €4.15-4.20/kg, while even O-grade Friesians still command €4.00/kg. The base price for under-16-month bulls seems also to have held in the €4.15-4.20/kg region.

Where does that leave all those early year predictions? You could say that like a failed bookie's docket they are headed for the bin; however, with two and a half months to go to September 1, would you give odds on the price for prime cattle not improving?


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